proving yourself . . .

by mulberryshoots

Well, I’ve been thinking more about the holidays after listening to Deepak Chopra’s wonderful set of affirmations aloud on my laptop yesterday. Somehow, his voice and words convey a path to understanding myself more deeply. More importantly, a better understanding of my relationship with others.

This morning, I woke up thinking about how proving ourselves impacts the attitude or the intention of what we set out to do. For example, I have been feeling more put-upon and tired preparing for Thanksgiving this year, saying to myself, it’s because of my age and/or all the other myriad of projects that I don’t have room for to do during these weeks of preparation.

But then, I thought, “nope that’s not it.” I think it’s because there was, and has been (notice I’m using past tense verbs here) the notion in the back of my mind that I had to prove myself once again: that the roast chestnut dressing had to be wonderful, so labor intensive and frustrating when a good chestnut was hard to find–or that the bird had to be aromatic, juicy and tasty (even though the oven overheated to scorch the baked potatoes and then underheated while trying to roast the turkey;) that the brussel sprouts couldn’t be watery but crisped in a little butter before adding the bacon pieces. You get the picture.

OF COURSE IT’S EXHAUSTING when one’s perfectionist leanings that fuel me to prove myself kick in. And, in the process, makes me feel resentful (who’s doing this to me anyhow?) and the whole labor is not one wholly of love, but of obligation. Wow, that’s disheartening to realize, isn’t it? BUT, it’s actually very liberating because I realize that what’s really going to happen at the NEXT holiday–which is Christmas(!) and just around the corner, dear friends, is that I’m not going to be wearing that wet blanket around my shoulders again.

In reflection about myself and how one wears oneself out trying to show your love for your family at the same time that you also want them to just really enjoy it, there’s this aspect of “proving oneself.” And that added ingredient just doesn’t help. I was also thinking about this concept when a new friend asked me almost rhetorically, why she was pushing herself to make more pots when she had been sick and fell behind, and the weather had delayed the firing of her kiln of wares for the holidays. It doesn’t have to do with our age inhibiting us, I don’t think. It has to do with either that we are still proving ourselves to ourselves and to others. Or we are doing it out of the joy of doing something for its own sake and because we care about others. In her case, I think it’s the latter.

Are the distinctions I am making too fine to understand? I don’t think so. At least for me, the proving of myself, even at my age with my grown daughters–has to do in the end, with proving one’s self-worth. Or, to put it another way, a way to justify one’s very existence. What that means is that we feel if we don’t prove ourselves and make everybody happy in the process, then, well, we’re just not worthwhile. Is this a women’s thing? Unfortunately, I have a feeling that it is.

So where are we? I don’t know about you, but I’m letting go of a LOT of old habits and baggage because I realize it’s not helping me or anyone around me. In fact, I know it’s long overdue. I have to say that this release is huge, and due largely to listening to Deepak’s deep and gentle voice by myself yesterday in the cottage (and in the car on my way back home.) The affirmations have helped me to understand things like intention, and compassion and that e-g-o- means “edging God out” and that judgment (“judge not today”) blocks out creativity. The net effect on me has been that the affirmations have released me from comparing myself to others and to be clear that I, (and you, all of us, everyone of us,) am worthwhile, just because.

If you want to see a little more for yourself, take a look at Soul Healing Affirmations (March 25, 2008) on I-Tunes. It is a very simple and profound set of affirmations that go alphabetically from A-Z. Each one lasts less than 2 minutes or no more than about 4 minutes.

I feel a lot better. And I hope you will too when thinking about whether proving yourself is really worth it when you don’t have to in the first place, and maybe, not anymore.